Hot and cold

In the “Transcendental Analytic” of the Critique of Pure Reason Kant identified the second principle of pure understanding (Anticipations of Perception) in the variation of the intensive quantity, citing as example the degree of heat perceived – an example that is didactically very concrete, as teachers and students know very well. He could not presume that, more than two centuries later, this thermal example would be overturned into a progressive but inexorable increase of the heat in itself. And that the inhumane coldness of this escalation would dangerously erode the purity of Transcendental, since the reality of sensation – no longer vanishing into the a priori of gradation – threatens even the empirical consciousness of the “I think”.

Undermining the conditions of possibility of every horizon of meaning, and so reflecting the weakening of the physical continuum, but also the psycholinguistic, ethical and social continuity of the gradation (as we can commonly see in the intersubjective relationships, where hot becomes abruptly cold, and cold becomes inflamed without notice), the problem about global warming is no longer just an environmental question but in the latest years it has expanded its outreach to a ‘point of no return’. This is happening in the “obejct-oriented ontology” field, from the political epistemology of Bruno Latour down to the dark ecology of Tim Morton. That’s why, using Morton’s definition, the global warming as hyper-object has jeopardized the Neolithic limits of the traditional conservative ecology laying on new and enlarged bases the problem of the Anthropocene.

All of this shows us how much the erosion of the Transcendental and the almost obsessive return of the ontological speech, which in Italy has taken the form of the New Realism, hides some burning psychopolitical roots. This does not happen just because the increase of temperature leads to an increase of aggressiveness. Further and conversely, the presumed autonomy of politics – of its discursive order cooled by the technique of governance, or by the algorithmic governmentality, as Antoinette Rouvroy would prefer to say – hides within it ontological or even metaphysical options, which are totally unintentional and unconscious.

As well as that, the unconscious and problematic aspects of the traditional opposition hot/cold are currently invading the domain of media theory. It is well known that McLuhan used to distinguish between ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ media: the first ones constrained a mainly passive and ‘cold’ fruition, the latter a partecipating, interactive and ‘hot’ fruition. McLuhan’s distinction was theorized for traditional electric media (cinema, radio, TV) and it is not easy to apply it to these media today, but it needs to be radically reconsidered in relation with the present confluence, or better con-fusion, of media in the world of digital hyper-media.

Facing the challenge issued to the contemporary thought by the irreversibility of climatic, political, social and technological changes, and by the failure of the old distinctions and conceptual oppositions, not to mention identitary distinctions, Kaiak magazine decided to explore some possible points of contact among the different aspects of the hot/cold theme: the eco-ontological side, the medialogical and psychosocial side (through the notion of “field of intensity” it’s possible to have interaction between classic philosophical distinction and postmodern revival – Deleuze – or recent ontological suggestions – Tristan Garcia– ), while the oxymoronic game between the two terms of the opposition can be used to measure the current temperature of social relationships, rather than simply taking note of their de-gradation.


1) global warming

2) hot media vs. cold media

3) hot psychosis and cold psychosis

4) hot nesting as anthropogenic factor (Sloterdijk)

5) coldness and cruelty (Le froid et le cruel, Deleuze)

6) new cold wars vs. hot geopolitical areas in the 21st century

7) theories concerning intensity

Call for papers

The abstracts of the papers shall be sent to Redaction within the 31 march 2018. The essays shall be delivered within June, 30th, and they will be valued through the anonymous peer review proceeding.